Ketamine could help people with bipolar disorder shake off depression. Ketamine was first introduced in 1962 and is legally used as a human, and animal, anaesthetic. It is also used as a 'party' drug when it is known, among other things, as 'Special K'. Researchers from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland used much smaller doses of the drug than are used recreationally on 18 patients with severe bipolar depression. The patients had tried an average of seven different drugs to treat their illness and 55% had had electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). However, 40 minutes after receiving a ketamine injection the patients depressive symptoms had improved - an effect that lasted for at least three days. Side effects included anxiety, feeling woozy, headaches and a temporary sense of disconnection from reality although there were no 'serious adverse effects.'
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